I get down the plane ramp and I find myself in Sardinia. No other place like Sardinia conveys to the visitor such a clear perception of where he is. If you land at Las Vegas airport you will be besieged by slot machines, in Hawaii there will be a bogus local girl handing you a garland of flowers, in Bali you will be welcomed by young people in traditional costumes, but these characterisations do not even remotely resemble the genuine impact you feel with Sardinia and its fragrance – a strong, penetrating, typical and unique scent, which is already perceptible on the airport runway, and cannot be mitigated by the kerosene smell of the engines. I have gone to Palumbalza, on the Gulf of Marinella, for the press conference Domina has organised to present its new programmes, and during my two-day stay I have had a chance to realise how the island has changed, and above all how a new generation of professionals has grown. I went to Porto Cervo for the first time 35 years ago, when the island had just been discovered by international tourism. I would work at the Cervo hotel in summer, and study in Milan in winter. Initially, the people who worked in tourism were all from the continent, or from Switzerland or Germany – a few from the United States. The professional education of local people was really extremely basic, and this, combined with a certain amount of snobbism on the part of the entrepreneurs who first invested in Sardinia (it was a constant attitude, not only in tourism. I remember, for instance, a stone-cutter who came from Boston, Massachusetts, to sculpt Costa’s logo on kerbstones) was hampering the tourist growth of the island. From this short stay in Sardinia, on the contrary, I drew the impression that strong professional skills have by now been built; supervisors, managers, and the personnel working in tourism in general are local people, and they show excellent skills and adequate preparation. The young have gained experience abroad, and now set an example to the new recruits; vocational schools have multiplied, and within the limits of all schools, they are certainly not behind any other region; universities have started developing tourist curricula; the whole island is in full ferment, and I am convinced it is ready for a new and strong phase of growth, which this time will above all benefit the local population.
Sardinia and development
Di Antonio Caneva English translation Paola Pr, 15 Giugno 2001